Google opens UK centre for accessibility tech research

A new Google research centre is its first in the UK to focus on accessible technology and collaborating with disability communities.

The London based centre has been developed in partnership with accessibility organisations such as the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Royal National Insititute for Dead People and disability charities such as Everyone Can. 

Alongside serving as a research and product development hub, the company says the centre, which is its first of its kind outside of the US, will be ‘a space for collaborating, co-designing and learning with the accessibility and disability communities.’ 

Rachael Bleakley, Program Manager at Google, said: ‘When people have equitable access to information and opportunities, everyone wins. But people’s needs are constantly changing, throughout their lives or even throughout their day. 

‘We know that technology — and direct partnerships with people with disabilities— are key to helping us meet those needs and making the world’s information more accessible.’


The opening of the centre coincides with the beta launch of Google’s Project Relate, a programme that transcribes the words of those who have ‘non-standard speech’ that can prevent others from fully understanding what they are saying. 

Project Relate can then be used to repeat the information it has transcribed to a third party or to the Google Assistant software. 

Tom Pursglove, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: ‘This Government remains committed to transforming the everyday lives of disabled people, so I welcome the opening of Google’s new Accessibility Discovery Centre. 

‘By bringing together disabled people and tech experts, the centre will help realise the potential of assistive technology to remove barriers and increase opportunity.’ 

Google has also announced it will be committing £1m of funding across three grants in the UK and Europe to create opportunities for those with disabilities including supporting the European Disability Forum and the Royal Mencap Society. 

Using tech to aid those with accessibility needs has seen increased funding and research over recent years, including by other big tech companies such as BT, who have trialled technology to help those living in care homes. 

Apple’s latest ad campaign also highlighted the use of assistive technology in allowing disabled people to live with greater independence.

Photos by Google


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top